Minister confirms that those arriving in Covid-positive China will not need to be isolated

Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

Transport Minister Mark Harper confirmed that those who test positive for Covid from China will not be forced into quarantine.

Senior Tory MP’s comments confirm details – first revealed by Independent – this test will be voluntary for those arriving at Heathrow, the only UK airport with direct flights from China where the tests are offered.

Asked whether people who test positive after arriving in the UK should be quarantined, Harper told LBC: “No, because what we do is we collect this information for surveillance purposes.”

Mr Harper, who campaigned against strict Covid controls from the back row during the pandemic, added: “The policy towards those from China is primarily about collecting information that the Chinese government does not share with the international community.”

The cabinet minister said there were “very high levels of vaccination” in the UK, while encouraging older, more vulnerable people to “get their fourth vaccinations this winter”.

As part of the measures announced by Health Minister Steve Barclay, passengers flying from China to the UK from Thursday will be required to take a Covid test before boarding the plane.

The government will also conduct surveillance testing on a sample of passengers arriving in the UK from China to try to detect new variants of the virus that could pose a threat.

But Independent He learned that passengers could decline an invitation to test on arrival and leave the airport, and that those who test positive would neither be quarantined nor ordered to self-isolate.

The UK government has been asked not to repeat “past failures” and to align its rules with other countries mandating arrival tests.

Daisy Cooper, health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said: “The government’s inability to deal with the latest Covid threat is the last thing our over-tense NHS needs right now. This confused thinking may haunt the viewers if they get it wrong.”

Ms Cooper added: “The government’s approach to sampling needs to be aligned with other countries. Ministers should learn from past failures.”

There are no direct flights from China to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but ministers said they are working with devolved administrations to implement the measures across the UK.

The move came as Beijing prepared to reissue passports and visas for overseas travel after it lifted zero Kovid controls – a decision that has led to a huge spike in infections.

Mr. Harper described Rishi Sunak’s approach as a “logical, balanced proposition” to deal with the potential Covid spread from China.

“This is about a country, China, that doesn’t share its health data with the global health system as we expect everyone else to do,” he told LBC. That’s why we put this temporary precautionary measure in place as China opens its borders.”

Harper said: “We do two things: we want people flying out of China to do a pre-departure test so they need to show they’re negative before boarding the plane and when they arrive in America.” Kingdom, the UK Health Safety Agency will take a sample from the passengers and test them.”

“This is so that we can get this information into our healthcare system and track the virus from China,” he added.

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